My 7-year-old's teacher decided to put on a school play. It begins in 20 minutes. I have a problem with this. In fact, I have many problems with this.
For starters, it's nearly the end of the school year. Why are we getting ambitious now? Isn't now the time for field day and end-of-year ice cream parties? Don't these last precious weeks provide that once-a-year opportunity for exhausted teachers to wheel in the large cube television sets on dollies and play "Schoolhouse Rock!" (or, for the teachers who have really stopped giving a crumpet, "Grease") on a never-ending loop? Because that, my friends, is the kind of home schooling I can handle right now. Movies, snacks and sending them outside to "field day," aka the trampoline. But a play? Not the go-outside kind but the memorize-lines kind? That's not just work for my kiddo; that's work for me. These are lines I had to memorize alongside my kid to help him practice.
Oh, but no, it didn't stop there. Then, the nerve, my son's teacher gave me a song to sing, too. Parent participation is lovely, when volunteered. But a mandated solo? That's just a new form of quarantine abuse! So I memorized the song and sang it in play practice. And the solo was promptly taken away from me and given to my son. Something about how the pitch and rhythm and melody were off. Perhaps the lyrics, too. I can't be sure. Surely, the solo belongs to my child, and he does a most excellent job, but it was nonetheless a brutal blow to my quarantine ego. I was kindly asked instead to participate in the chorus hoedown. I'm being taken back to that time in my musical theater days when I was asked to lip-sync during the chorus numbers. Somehow my voice risked destroying the overwhelming crescendo of a 60-person cast. Surely, you are now thinking, "Wow, Katiedid must be uniquely terrible at singing." And to that I say, "That's beside the point!" One can take only so many gray hairs, Cheeto crumb-filled bedsheets and solo-takeaways before one really begins to question her life's choices. And you know I'm not fixing the gray hairs and Cheeto crumb-filled bedsheets any time soon.
Lastly, this play is to go on, in now only 10 minutes, unmuted over Zoom. I have not been in many Zoom meetings, but the ones I have been on have consisted of naked children running past screens, video turned off but toilet flushes being heard on audio, and someone crunching too loudly. And those are when the meetings are filled with adults. Not children. Children who, no matter how recently they just ate, seem to always need a snack. The louder the crunch, the better. I'm confident celery sales are through the roof right now. Though my kids never wanted to touch the stuff before, the joy of loudly crunching through their parents' Zoom meetings has added a new pizazz to the otherwise dull vegetable.
Seeing as we are, of course, at home, children and parents were asked to create our own costumes. My son and I are American prospectors. I considered just letting him dig in the dirt for an hour so I could get this column done. Not just for selfish reasons, mind you. He would have been digging for gold. Doing so surely would have helped with character development and with creating attire resembling that typically worn in 1849. Undoubtedly, these were not the most washed men and women. And what if my kid had found gold in our backyard, huh? I wouldn't have seemed like such a negligent parent then, would I have?
And here is the dilemma we are always facing in these quarantine times. I love helping my kid. I love being a part of his world and his school and his playtime. But the balance is always off. Deadlines don't go away. Work piles up, and stress piles on. I resent resenting my part (and my part that was taken away because of my poor singing ability) in the school play.
So I write this column in overalls, my hair in pigtails, a kerchief around my neck and a nugget of fool's gold in my pocket. The balancing act of the pandemic might be a fool's errand, but I guess we all just gotta hoedown our way through it.
Curtains open in 5, 4, 3, 2...
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.